Have you ever been told that if you want to help your kids do better in a subject they’re struggling with, you need to get them some tutoring for that subject?
Let me save you some hard work and aggravation.
Many years ago, I bought into this exact strategy. As an educator, I assumed that a student’s grade in a certain subject reflected how well or poorly the student grasped that subject.
I cringe as I write this, but there was a time when I thought that tutoring on a case-by-case basis – by subject – was actually helpful.
If you have a child who just doesn’t “get” what they’re covering in math class? You need a math tutor. Your kids do great on all their take-home English assignments but bomb their in-class tests consistently? Get an English tutor.
I mean, that’s what we’re taught to think, right?
But what really happened?
Kids who ONLY got help for English or Math or whatever subject they were “struggling” with kept struggling. Their grades didn’t really change, but they did feel worse about themselves.
The longer kids got help with a certain subject, the more they believed they were just “bad” at that subject – why else would they need extra help with it?
Sometimes they did better on the next test, but there was no fundamental or sustainable change in their performance in that subject. Why? Because most barriers to doing well in school are NOT due to subject-specific material.
Yet most people think this and so students become reliant on their tutors to tell them what they need to know, all the while feeling stressed or stupid or bored because they need tutoring while many of their classmates don’t.
And as soon as they no longer have the tutor as a crutch? They don’t know what to do. They don’t know HOW to get through material they see as just too hard.
Parents became entangled in what often became a battle with school or grades, wishing they could help but not able to (whether because they didn’t know how or because their “Mom’” hat simply meant their kids didn’t want to hear it from them).
Then I asked myself ONE question – what would happen if I stopped helping students with specific subject matter….and started helping them explicitly build the core skills they need to do well in ALL subjects instead?
I dismissed the idea of students being “good” or “bad” at certain subjects.
I began understanding that students are “good” or “bad” at applying their skills to certain subjects and to managing school holistically. And then I immersed myself in testing this with learners of all needs in different educational settings.
And within a couple short months, families were experiencing unprecedented transformations. Students weren’t just getting higher grades but feeling way more confident and in control with school. Parents were floored but delighted at their kids’ newfound motivation to do well because they wanted to, because they finally knew how…without Mom or Dad hiring a bunch of tutors or nagging them to get their work done.
Here’s the bottom line: you can’t solve a problem with the thinking that created it. School is subject-specific. Tutoring is just more of the same. It might work in the short-term to pass the next test, but it certainly doesn’t work to address the real reason your kids are struggling with school (gaps in their skills – not subject knowledge).
If you’re stuck in the tutor trap and want out, book a call here and let’s talk.
Doing well – not just in school but in life – isn’t about what you know. It’s about how you learn and how well you can apply your learning in various personal, professional and academic contexts. If you believe your kids would benefit from becoming expert learners, book a call and let’s strategize exactly that.
The other day I mentioned how accommodations don’t solve the problems many parents think they…
If I had a dime for every time a student used the word ‘bored’ or…
A lot of students have a hard time focusing on school work. They spend hours…